Wednesday, January 28, 2009
We've had a fun couple of days, here at the Centre for the Development of Humongously Infectuous Children's Epidemics. Wolf was a little bit ill, in the sense that rivers of yellow muck were squirting out of his ears. As if a double ear infection wasn't enough, he topped it of with a nice little bronchitis.
During the day, he was tired and clingy and in pain. During the night, he was awake and clingy and in pain. We put him into the little fold-up bed in our sleeping room, because at one point we were afraid that he'd choke to death in his own snot. So we didn't sleep that well since, well as long as I can remember. I think by now we're known as the zombie family from down the street in our neighbourhood. Mrs.B is slipping further down the path of death, taking over some of his bacteria in a futile attempt to releave his pain. For once, I missed out on the general virus frenzy, but just for writing me my bad karma will see to it that I'll be struck by lightning when I leave the house tomorrow morning.
Because in all likelyhood he can kill a child at twenty paces just by breathing in its general direction, Wolf was also banned from the daycare centre. I had a fun extra day off work this Monday, trying to keep him entertained and slime-free until he was getting too tired and too whiny and it was time to drag him to bed again. To top it all off, he has mastered an ancient Chinese form of self defense, so getting him up or down a flight of stairs is a real adventure now.
We banned him to his grand-parents for the rest of the week. I'm guessing that he'll be just the little angel over there, not throwing food around or having any tantrums.
I miss him.
Monday, January 19, 2009
Hi Baby, Bye Baby
We got a long awaited phone call from my sister on Saturday. She had just given birth to a healthy baby boy. Champagne! Fireworks! A general pardon to all convicted criminals!
Ibe is a healthy baby boy, weighing a heft 3.7 kilos and measuring 52 cm dry off the hook. Sis was feeling fine but tired, after a morning in the bath tub to alleviate the pain and three hours in the delivery room. So we promised to come over to the hospital the next day.
But first we had to drive to the Brussels region, to our little filly Hearty. As you may remember, we brought her to a foal day-and-night care centre, to play with other horses and to become a well behaved horse. And she was doing very well at school indeed. But after much tossing and turning and soul searching and pondering and some thinking too, we had to take the tough and inevitable decision to sell her.
It's not only that keeping two horses is weighing hard on our family budget. We also find we hardly have the time to visit the both of them as we should. And it doesn't look as if we'll have much more time in the years to come. We'll manage with Julia, but it wouldn't be fair towards Hearty. A young foal needs a lot of care and attention and training. Mrs.B (and I) just won't have the time for it.
So with pain in our hearts with took our goodbyes from Hearty, whom we sold to a very nice family with three little children but with more time and money than we have.
The donkeys in the meadow next to her stable gave her a blaring loud farewell tribute, as she stepped into the family's horse trailer like a good little girl. A little while later we drove off to see little Ibe.
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Belgium's Biggest New Year's Reception
Every year in January, the city of Antwerp invites its citizens – and any tourists that happen to pass by – to a giant, public New Year's celebration on the main market square. When we still lived in our appartment in the city centre, literally a stone's throw away, we never missed it. There are free drinks for everyone – hot chocolate, soup or glühwein (hot wine) – and everyone gets a small present. And there were even free fries for everyone (with ketchup or mayonaise)! At least if you were willing to stand in line for half an hour. We queued up twice.
If you look around a bit, you have the chance to rub shoulders with the mayor and other local celebrities. But the nice thing is that the atmosphere is so nice that you just start talking to anyone and get to meet people you'd otherwise never talk to.
For the little ones, there was an antique merry-go-round, with swings and beautiful wooden swans. I took Wolf for a round on my lap. I had the impression that he didn't quite know what to make of the experience. I did, because it was freezing cold and I was glad when the thing finally stopped. But it was also fun to wave to mummy every time we wizzed by, while she was eating her giant pink 'Barbapappa' (sugar spin).
We didn't stay too long, because it was still very cold despite the hot food and drinks, but again it was very nice. We missed last year, because Wolf was still too small, but I hope we can make it back next year.
Thursday, January 08, 2009
It's freezing cold, temperatures here are dropping as low as minus ten (°C). It snowed during the weekend, and the streets are covered in grey slush while the sidewalks have more in common with ice rinks. I have to risk life and limb every morning to get to the bus stop, where I wait until my nose drops off and icicles hang off my ears for a bus that is always late. On Monday, I had to play Super-bus-passenger and come to the rescue because all the traffic in the main road to the train station got blocked. Some idiot parked two containers on the road, and because we Belgians loose every ounce of intelligence once we haul our arses in our cars, it was a total gridlock. So Super-bus-passenger got out of the bus, persuaded two cars to get lost, helped the bus driver to drive back so that the truck and the bus coming from the other direction could advance. And then we had to make a run for it, because a new batch of morons were ready to block everything once again, and my powers only go that far.
The trains have been running late all week long. Just a tiny bit of snow and frost and the whole system falls in shambles. And it's soooo much fun to wait on a freezing platform for thirty minutes to an hour. Both the morning and evening services suffer from these delays, so I get out of the house in the very early morning and it's very late before I can stick my feet into my slippers.
And yesterday, when I finally made it home, the largest pile of dirty dishes in the universe was waiting for me.
Boy, I hope 2010 will be a better year.